Hawelti Center: Think and grasp

Without dreams, visions starve. Without visions, there are no powerful goals. Without powerful goals, we stop before we begin.
(Waldefried Pechtl)

One of our main goals from the beginning was to help the students of the Hawelti School in Aksum to have better learning conditions and thus a better future.
On our first visit in 2014, however, faced many other challenges; Above all, it was about hunger and thirst. The teachers told us that a high percentage of the children don’t have enough food, got sick and therefore do not attend class. Or the children fall asleep during class. In 2017, we were able to positively counter this challenge with our large project and, in addition, to implement even smaller projects in the city • (read more here – sorry, but only in german language).

While most of our travels to Aksum have been with authorities, the school principal, teachers and other organizations, we came into closer contact with the children in our last travel (during our six-month stay). So we got a glimpse of how teaching content is taught: mostly theoretical (by the way, that does not differ so much from most other countries in the world!).

We experienced that the students either listened to the teachers or read the textbooks. This was also a matter of fact for science subjects. Independent experiments rare. With blunt scissors and broken cutter knives "Styrofoam refrigerators" were made (with a mini light, in which the cable without a plug was plugged directly into the socket) as well as "microscopes" made of cardboard and an old light bulb for magnification. In the case of a predominantly theoretical lesson there is the danger that the thus learned, is only saved "walking" in the short-term memory.

What we encountered most often during our trip was inquisitive and curious children, who absorbed everything that happened around them. There were sewing machines, for example, which we had overhauled. The mechanic had a hardly chance to work alone, because many children followed every single move with their eyes very close to his hands. There were children who could hardly be stopped from helping on the job construction site and who wanted to be very close by when the current transformer was set up. There were enthusiastic children who did not only hear something about light in the physics class from the book, but also got a cable, a battery and a light bulb from Günter with the offer create light. There were children who repaired school furniture with us and with great enthusiasm

There are currently 15 schools in Aksum. In addition, there are various schools in the surrounding villages. A large percentage of the children are from very poor backgrounds and grew up in a region that is almost entirely dominated by agriculture and begging. So you can assume that the children cannot develop visions of the future with these framework conditions. Due to the predominantly theoretical teaching often the imagination, the curiosity and the enthusiasm got lost.

Tell me, and I'll forget it. Show it to me and maybe I'll keep it. Let me do it and I can do it.

After many impressions and experiences, we thought about how we can realize our vision of a better future for the children in Aksum. In the process, the idea of an own Hawelti-Center was born, in which a "field of experience for all senses" is linked to a "science center". Having concentrated on one school so far, it quickly was obvious for that we wanted to reach the children and teachers of all schools with our Hawelti-Center. It should be a voluntary and free offer for children, as most families cannot afford an entrance fee.

A according to Confucius, we want to introduce the children to the exciting world of technology, new technologies and natural sciences. This is done by reflecting, thinking on, grasping, experimenting and doing.
With Hawelti-Center, we want to create a platform that maintain the natural imagination, curiosity and gives provides more desire to learn for a better future.

What exactly do we want to offer?

We offer at Hawelti-Center ...

  • Make compost with the children and grow vegetables (about 70% of the waste in Aksum is organic, but isn't currently used)
  • Analyze water and teach children the importance of clean drinking water; In addition, possibilities for filtering water should be demonstrated
  • Install a computer lab to help children learn how to use computers
  • Install a sewing center where children learn how to repair or make clothes
  • Set up a craft area where children learn how to use tools and various materials, perhaps gaining access to the local trade in the area
  • Set up scientific rooms with microscopes, anatomy dolls, solar experiments and much more
  • Install a multimedia center where we want to show care of the project films
  • To build a "science center" as centerpiece with various interactive exhibits and experimental stations, where the children experience science by "doing"

Another idea for the use of the Hawelti-Center, or individual areas are training courses for women, among other things, to allow them a greater autonomy (we have, among other things, some sewing machines that we provide women as "seed capital" to setup their own business and return give sewing lessons to the kids in Hawelti-Center).

Very important to us ...

We want to tailor the center to the needs in Ethiopia. It will create a center that contains many everyday practical components (including drinking water and health).

In addition, the infrastructure in Ethiopia is not comparable to Germany (no S-Bahn network or public transport), and so children from nearby places will not have access to Hawelti-Center. This is the reason, why we create a mobile center, which will bring individual exhibits and experiments with a vehicle to the children in the surrounding areas.
It is also important for us to operate this center with local employees; in doing so, we enable people in the city to support their families.

How do we implement the idea with the center?

Currently, a concept for the center is being created together with the company Hüttinger. After a resulting cost calculation, we will collect donations. In Aksum itself we will talk with the city and other organizations about the implementation.
Afterwards, the Hawelti-Center will be built locally in Aksum. At the same time we will equip a vehicle in Aksum, which delivers our "mobile" center to the children in the rural environment.

Our vision for the future

Since we integrate Aksum employees into the production of the exhibits, we can copy our "learning idea" as often as you like in a subsequent step in Ethiopia and bring it to many other children in many other cities.

Who is already at our side?

  • We are delighted to have acquired the company Hüttinger for one of the world's leading providers of science centers for this idea
  • There have already been several discussions with the University of Vienna regarding the idea of compost, which has a large "composting project" in Addis Ababa; Again, there is already a commitment for cooperation
  • We want to make our entire center modern and sustainable; for the planning of solar energy we were able to win the company Greenovative, which was already a great partner for us in our kitchen project.
  • This second major project will also be cost-intensive and we are pleased to have gained a first partner with the Soroptimists (local group Ellwangen), which helps us to collect the urgently needed donations

As already indicated, we want to operate our center with our own employees. They should not only be involved in the construction of the exhibits, but accompany and supervise the children in the center. According to the current calculation, the costs are around 185 Euro per month - that's about Euro per working hour! (As of January 2018). To meet these monthly costs, more than 20 donor dinos are currently working to raise funds throughout Germany and in Salzburg.

Also you want to help us and set up a donation dino? (Here you will find more information in german language.)

You have further ideas and / or would like to get involved in the project? Then we look forward to receiving an email from you

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